What is Justification? Why must it be by Faith Alone?
(3.11.1) “Christ was given to us by God’s generosity, to be grasped and possessed by us in faith. By partaking of him, we principally receive a double grace: namely, that being reconciled to God through Christ’s blamelessness, we may have in heaven instead of a judge a gracious father; and secondly, that sanctified by Christ spirit we may cultivate blamelessness and purity of life”
'The End', or so you would think.
Turns out, Calvin has a much more to say on Justification because humanity is just too dumb, too deaf, too arrogant, to faithless, and too influenced by Roman teaching to understand this simple concept.
(3.11.2) “Therefore, we explain justification simply as the acceptance of with which God receives us in his favor as righteous men (people). And we say that it consist in the remission of sins and the imputation of Christ’s righteousness.”
Right! God says, “Because you have faith, it’s all good.” But Calvin continues...
(3.11.3) “Therefore, “to justify” means nothing else than to acquit of guilt on him who was accused, as if his innocence were confirmed.”
By now, I hope you are seeing a pattern here.
In days past, I’ve had conversations like this in a bar at 1 am, dude talking, and saying the same thing over and over. I doubt Calvin was high at the time, but he is writing in great detail so that there is no misunderstanding. Calvin considers every possible argument and the way people might approach this concept. There is NOTHING we can to do merit favor with God.
From 3.11.5 - 15 Calvin sets straight someone known as Osiander who didn’t understand the simple and beautiful concept of God’s grace to us through Jesus Christ. Now as simple as this concept is, wouldn’t you know, we still find a way to mess it up with pride. Calvin takes up this error by writing about humility
(3.12.5) Away with all Self-admiration! “In order that we may rightly examine ourselves, our consciences must necessarily be called into God’s judgement seat. For there is need to strip entirely bare in its light the secret places of our depravity” God gives to us a clean slate by faith alone and ‘some people’ get all haughty thinking they are now ‘Holier than Thou.’
Watch it, Calvin warns.
(3.12.8) “For we will never have enough confidence in him unless we become deeply distrustful of ourselves; we will never lift up our hearts enough in him unless they be previously cast down in us; we will never have consolation enough in him unless we have already experience desolation in ourselves.”
I believe what Calvin is trying to say is, “Tim dig yourself brother. Just because God’s grace is promised to you through faith in Christ and you are justified in God’s eyes, that don’t give you any excuse to go acting like a fool and messing around in those things you used to be messing around in.” (Calvin speaks to me that way sometimes).
Now in (3.14.1) Calvin lays four classifications of men, (people) who are in the process of Justification: 1. Endowed with no knowledge of God and immersed in idolatry, or 2. Initiated into sacraments, yet by impurity of life denying God in their actions while they confess him with their lips, they belong to Christ only in name; or 3. They are hypocrites who conceal with empty pretenses their wickedness of heart, or 4. Regenerated by God’s spirit, they make true holiness their concern.
You all are in category #4 right? Amen?
If you can’t say Amen, you better say ‘Ouch!’
The last two sections of this chapter (3.14.3-4) deal with what Calvin calls the ungodly. Those without Christ and it’s pretty harsh, they’re doomed. I wonder what Calvin would have thought and said had he lived to know of the ‘new world’. Millions of soul lost because they were born and died on a distant continent. If Calvin had continued to hold this theology, I think I would have told him that he was a fool and knew nothing of the Grace of God. (I talk to Calvin that way sometimes)
What would you say?